The American Prison System

The American Prison System, capitalism out of control.

Eagle banner long and narrow
It’s big of course but did you realise just how big. Prison costs the US taxpayer $77 billion every year. That’s bigger than the turnover of 133 sovereign countries. 65 million Americans have criminal records and are or have been under some form of correctional control, prison, probation or parole. That’s 20% of the population more than the population of Britain. Since 1970 the US prison population has increased by 700% and a desperate government is turning more and more to the private sector to cope. Since 1990 the number of private prisons has increased by 1600%.

The War Against Drugs and Illegal Immigration is the driving force for this startling increase in the number of prisoners. The government went to the private sector to improve efficiency and lower cost (mainly wages). In Mississippi, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), one of the biggest private players, pays $12.88 against $27 for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Amazingly in their contract with Uncle Sam CCA are guaranteed between 90% and 100% occupancy rates! If occupancy rates fall below 90% the government pays for the empty cells. The taxpayer foots the bill from the public safety budget.

In their tough on drugs and illegal immigration policies, both failing miserably, the government put the fox in charge of the hen house. It’s well known that putting people in prison doesn’t work very well. At best it’s like sweeping your dirt under the carpet, out of sight out of mind. In this case however things will never improve, they can’t or the likes of CCA will be out of a job. For example most prisoners can earn time off for good behaviour but in a private prison they are 8 times more likely to get time added to their sentence for minor infractions. Talking back to a guard will get you 30 days at $200 a night. Worse, private prison operators spend millions lobbying politicians in Washington DC. They want harsher sentences, they do not want legalisation of drugs or immigration amnesties. So what about rehabilitation of prisoners and reducing the rate of reoffending? Not going to happen, it’s bad for business. The emphasis is on filling prisons and building new ones not on rehabilitation, not on treating people like human beings.
The co-founder of CCA is the former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican party. Oh and CCA is listed as a Real Estate Investment Trust not a Prison Operator, it is therefore exempt from paying Federal taxes.

On the domestic front CCA charges inmates $5 a minute for phone calls and pays them wages of $1 per day. That means a weeks wages for one minute on the phone. Prisoners are traded by brokers who get paid commissions by competing prisons. A lifer is worth more than someone who got 2 years for fraud. Prisoners become commodities not human beings. So we get a crazy and cruel situation where a New York prisoner’s wife will likely have to visit her husband in Texas or Mississippi. How does that effect the marriage and the family? How does that help him get his life back on course? The cheapest prisons to run are of course, in rural America. Here the cost of doing business is optimal. Private prisons rent out their prisoners to companies like Starbucks, McDonalds, Boeing and even the American Military. Prisoners are heavily used in the making of military equipment, helmets, armour etc on lucrative government contracts. Last year CCA cleared $300 million, (tax free).

OK, there is no denying that from a moral standpoint the American penal system is one sick puppy. It’s just wrong on so many levels, unless you are a shareholder like Bank of America, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase & Co. There is also no denying that this coalition of power is incredibly effective from a commercial standpoint. American corporations run like Swiss Watches, they are frighteningly efficient, competition is fierce. It’s very easy to criticise but there is also much to admire here. There is nothing wrong with being effective and profitable within the disciplines of a free market. The problem is that corporate America has no moral compass only the relentless hunt for profit, naked greed.

Commerce and trade is pivotal to any healthy society but it must have a moral conscience. It must embrace its social responsibilities and it must be supervised effectively by the elected representatives of the people. It is not surprising that Corporate America has, very effectively, taken control of the political machine. In marketing terms it’s called vertical integration, the corporation takes over every layer of the supply chain to maximise profit. It’s perfectly logical. Any organisation or person who has the power to influence the bottom line is targeted and coerced. Any political oversight has long ago been bought and paid for.
They say that you can judge a nation by how it treats its prisoners. Prisoners, no matter their crime, are still human beings. They are not commodities to be exploited and traded for profit. There is a name for that kind of thing, slavery. It seems that slavery is not dead. African Americans and Hispanics represent 25 % of the population of America but 60% of the prison population. Americans are being kept in prison for profit like farm animals.

The prison system is but one example of how corporate America undermines the democratic and political process. There are many others. The American Republic and its ground breaking constitution represents a milestone in human evolution. It is by its very nature a challenge to human nature, to discrimination, to prejudice and greed. It is under constant and sustained attack from within and without.

In 1787 Benjamin Franklin helped create the new Republic. As he left the constitutional convention in Philadelphia he was famously asked by Mrs Powel what kind of government had been chosen. He replied,
“A Republic, madam, if we can keep it.”

The battle rages on, it extends far beyond America’s borders and affects us all. So God Bless America and her idealistic constitution, she needs all the help she can get.

First Impressions, Washington State

A US Odyssey – First Impressions…..

Washington State – As I work my way south from the Canadian border a first impression begins to form. At first there seems to be no real difference, I could still be in Canada. After crossing the American frontier it all feels a little… anticlimactic. There is not the razzmatazz that you get flying say into New York or LA. But these are international tourist destinations not mundane border crossings where local people routinely hop across the border to work or shop. In a strange way this is more exciting, it’s an insight into the real United States.

Gradually I begin to notice little things, road signs and speed limits are in miles not kilometers, the highway the traffic is much more aggressive with, not surprisingly, lots of trucks. That said after leaving crowded Greater Vancouver this feels like a bit of a backwater, maybe a little rustic even, which is nice. Washington State stretches out into the distance on every side. This is the Evergreen State, every US State has it motto and flag. If you do a little research you soon realise just how huge and wild Washington is. It’s easy to get distracted by human development because we tend to stick to the roads, towns and cities. This is far from the reality .

The Cascade mountains and the Olympic Peninsula dwarf human endeavours in their sheer, tractless wilderness. Much of it is temperate rain forest, in short, it rains a lot here. The border with Canada can easily be crossed on foot in many places but you’d probably die from exposure or starvation before you found a 7/11. Mother Nature guards the border well. Most of it has no road access, mostly dirt logging roads. Not a side of America that we pay much attention to and yet once you get away from the coastal strips, many states are vast and almost empty. There is also a long term, relentless move towards the cities with rural America, especially in the middle states losing population fast. With their tax bases dwindling, investment in infrastructure is limited and whole communities are dying on their feet.

There is a certain bustle in this area of rural America though. Thousands of Canadians cross the border every week to take advantage of the variety and price of American goods. Visiting America is also, for most of the world, an ambition. It’s an exciting novelty that Americans can’t appreciate because they live here and naturally take it all for granted. Canadians line up for gas and gobble up everyday staples like milk for example. I spoke to an elderly American lady as we watched a Canadian Sikh commandeer a whole pallet load of fresh milk that a bemused young worker was trying to put on the shelf. He just took it all and none to politely at that.

I explained to the American lady that milk was twice the price in Vancouver. She was amazed as we waited for the young man to bring another pallet. He kindly brought out a couple of jugs and handed them over in person. Bellingham and the surrounding area is small town America, the pace is measured, people are…kind. They call me sir which makes me uncomfortable but they call everybody sir or ma’am. They are warm and polite, gentle by nature but they are a little perplexed by the recent Canadian invasion. They are well used to Canadians coming to visit but something has changed the mood. In days gone by a driver’s license was all that was required to cross the border, sometimes just a nod. These days however security and the threat of terrorism loom. Everything is much more rapacious and downright stressful, especially for small town America.

American buying power and lower taxes makes the price differential irresistible. At the same time the population demographic has changed enormously in Greater Vancouver. A steady stream of Asian immigrants have flooded into Canada, they are much needed and very welcome but they do have a different approach. They might be from Iran or China or India and they are inevitably on a mission, to save money. Likely the whole family will be there for a days shopping and a visit to the United States. They have a keen nose for a bargain so you will find yourself in a long line for petrol as the fresh minted Canadian guy in front fills his tank and half a dozen fuel cans. Personally I think it ridiculously dangerous but curiously the Canadian Border Service Agency overlooks it. Just pray you don’t get in an accident with one of those mobile fuel dumps.

Many Canadians also cross the border to take advantage of cheaper flights from Bellingham International airport. A flight to Vegas for example can be a couple of hundred dollars cheaper from Bellingham than from Vancouver. It’s an hours drive but a family of four can save $800 on their holiday. The difference is in local taxes but the BC government seem unwilling to do anything to stem the flow. It all adds to the attraction for Canadians as can be seen by the numbers of motels and airport parking companies. The only other factor that makes a difference is the exchange rate. With the Americans in recessions Canadians have been taking full advantage.

The sheer numbers involved make it impossible for the Canadian Border agency to do much without bringing the whole circus to a standstill. However if you were foolish enough to try and cross the border with a blueberry or a potato, well brace yourself. There are certain things that they will not tolerate. There is a steady stream of outraged Americans at the Canadian frontier, mainly retired people, driving RV’s and going on vacation They watch in disbelief as their potatoes, fruit (and firearms) are politely removed. Oddly enough Americans often show up carrying firearms, in all innocence. The idea that they might be breaking the law is so ridiculous that it never occurs to them. They are allowed to transport guns en route to Alaska, but they need to fill in a triplicate form and pay $25. Don’t look for logic or common sense.

Smuggling is part and parcel of having a border, it’s a given. Every year $7 Billion worth of drugs (more than timber and tourism combined), mostly Marijuana, crosses this border! BC Bud is highly prized, in the States, Americans like their drugs. The vast majority of it is smuggled in container ships into the States which makes sitting in line for up to one and half hours to cross the border in a car rather frustrating not to mention futile. Washington State is known for its Meth Amphetamine and lately Marijuana was legalised. It remains to be seen how this will effect the economy on both sides of the border. It’s impossible to ignore the drugs scene if you want to learn more about America so more on that later.

However for the average citizen to risk smuggling for a few dollars of wine or tobacco is foolish. You might save a little but if you get caught, every time you go near the border the computer will light up like a Christmas tree. It’s just not worth it. On the other hand I remember declaring four bottles of wine, just to be on the safe side. I was delayed an hour and learned to my horror that the local provincial taxes are beefed up by a 100% Federal tax. You expect to pay duty but come on, 100%! Stand and Deliver! Clearly they want you to buy Canadian booze and they will protect their interests (markets).

America is commercially savvy of course and the chamber of commerce encourages Canadians to come over. In the scramble the old town of Bellingham is somewhat overlooked as new development in the form a strip malls and outlet stores spring up along the highway. The old town was centred on the waterfront, it has charm and character and… good food. The strip mall is all chicken nuggets and ugly cuboid flat roofed buildings. Typically inside they are what we have come to expect while on the outside they are unrelentingly, offensively ugly! American architecture is all about utility and cost. I can understand it because ultimately you can do without beauty but I am curious. What does it say about a people and what is the hidden cost of all this …ugliness?

They have lots of space so it all just sprawls amid a forest of cheap advertising hoardings and power lines. Oh and let’s not forget the automobile. I’m as guilty as anyone but cars and trucks form a large part of that first impression I was talking about. It’s ugly, dirty, smelly and aggressive and it gets progressively worse as you approach Seattle and only slackens when you veer away from the highway and head west for the blessed relief of the seaside. Major cities, whatever the country, seem to have an almost dehumanising effect.

Another thing that you cannot fail to perceive here is the uneven dispersal of wealth or even just the plain lack of it, i.e. poverty. I suppose that non Americans perceive America as a wealthy country so it comes as a shock when you see real poverty. America is in recession, no matter what the papers say. While I was filling my car a young man tapped me for $10 for gas. He just came over and said he didn’t have enough to get him home. I gave him his $10 and watched him walk over to an ancient Ford Explorer, maybe twelve miles to the gallon. Go figure as they say here. People have suffered and are still suffering, just have a quick look online at the local property listings. Foreclosures, hundreds and thousands of them, every one a personal tragedy.

The truth is plain when you look at the state of the roads, cars, housing and also the health of the local population. Times are hard even here on the border where the economy is bolstered by Canadian shoppers. Cheap food is plentiful but ironically it carries a heavy price. Let’s just say if you buy clothes in America you better try them on first. An American butt is bigger than a Canadian butt as I learned to my cost. Everything in America is bigger but not necessarily better, the levels of obesity are astonishing, it’s not just a cliché. I have never seen so many people literally disabled by obesity.

To dig a little deeper, there is also a strong and obvious correlation between obesity , poverty and the level of education. I realise that I am on thin ice here but this is simple observation and honestly I was shocked. However remember everything here is on a grander scale and when visiting other countries people naturally tend to make unflattering comparisons. The United States is also the last super power and the leader of the world in many ways. As such it gets a lot more criticism than it deserves, it’s tough at the top. It is wise to remember that every country has its social problems, the streets in America are not paved with gold.

After mixing with the locals for a while you begin to notice that there are different tribes. There are retired people, more and more of them. There are the rednecks, the new age hippy types, business folk and what I call the walking dead. It seems unkind but you will see them everywhere you go, just observation. Huge, ponderous, sluggish zombies, poisoned by a toxic diet and no exercise. They congregate around the food mall, a depressing testament to poor education, a consumerist society and bovine passivity. It is quite alarming.

Bellingham old town centres around the waterfront where historically industry was dependent on the sea. When the Interstate highway was built the whole emphasis shifted away from the old town. New malls, gas stations and motels sprang up along the highway. When you arrive coming from Canada along the highway it is easy to get the impression that Bellingham is just a giant strip mall. It’s well worth taking the time to go visit the old town, especially if you want to eat real food and maybe meet the locals. Apart from Bellingham the local towns of Birch Bay and Fairhaven offer pleasant diversion from the more commercialised areas. Many Canadians buy property here with a house near the sea costing half as much and just an hours drive from home.

Another thing that I have noticed, there a lot of churches here. Coming from the UK and Canada where religion is somewhat redundant, it’s a surprise. People here go to church, not all of them but they are serious about their religion. This is WASP country and although cosmopolitan Seattle is two hours away the population here is predominantly white. Seems to be a feature of small town America.

Everything in America is on a grand scale, vast. If you take the time to observe it is also full of surprises which probably says more about my own preconceived ideas about America. Clearly I have a lot to learn.

Northern Washington State – Border Country

Bellingham1 Bellingham2

A US Odyssey – First Impressions…..

Washington State – As I work my way south from the Canadian border a first impression begins to form. At first there is no real difference, I could still be in Canada. After crossing the American frontier it feels a little anticlimactic. There is not the razzmatazz that you get flying say into New York or LA. These are tourist destinations not mundane border crossings where people routinely commute or hop across the border. Gradually I begin to notice little things, road signs and speed limits are in miles not kilometers, just when I was getting used to the metric system. On the highway the traffic is much more aggressive with, not surprisingly, lots of trucks. That said after leaving Greater Vancouver this feels like a bit of a backwater, maybe a little rustic even, which is nice.

There is a certain bustle though which springs from the fact that thousands of Canadians cross the border every week to take advantage of the variety and price of American goods. Canadians line up for gas and gobble up everyday staples like milk for example. I spoke to an elderly American lady as we watched a Canadian Sikh commandeer a whole pallet load of fresh milk that a bemused young worker was trying to put on the shelf. He just took it all and none to politely at that.

I explained to the American lady that milk was twice the price in Vancouver. She was amazed as we waited for the young man to bring another pallet. He kindly brought out a couple of gallons and handed them over in person. Bellingham and the surrounding area is small town America, the pace is measured, people are…kind. They call me sir which makes me uncomfortable but they call everybody sir or ma’am. They are warm and polite, gentle by nature but find that the Canadian invasion has changed in nature. In days gone by a driver’s license was all that was required, sometimes just a nod. These days however everything is much more rapacious and downright stressful, especially for small town America.

American buying power and lower taxes makes the price differential irresistible. At the same time the population demographic has changed enormously in Vancouver as a steady stream of Asian immigrants flood into Canada. They have a keen nose for a bargain so you will find yourself in a long line for petrol as the guy in front fills his tank and half a dozen fuel cans. Personally I think it ridiculously dangerous but curiously the Canadian Border Service Agency overlooks it. Just pray you don’t get in an accident with one of those mobile fuel dumps. Many Canadians also cross the border to take advantage of cheaper flights from Bellingham International airport. A flight to Vegas for example can be a couple of hundred dollars cheaper from Bellingham than from Vancouver. It’s an hours drive but a family of four can save $800 on their holiday. The difference is in local taxes but the BC government seem unwilling to do anything to stem the flow. It all adds to the attraction for Canadians as can be seen by the numbers of motels and airport parking companies. The only other factor that makes a difference is the exchange rate. With the Americans in recessions Canadians have been taking full advantage.

The sheer numbers involved make it impossible for the Canadian Border agency to do much without bringing the whole circus to a standstill. However if you were foolish enough to try and cross the border with a blueberry or a potato, well brace yourself. There are certain things that they will not tolerate. There is a steady stream of outraged Americans at the Canadian frontier, mainly retired people, driving RV’s and going on vacation They watch in disbelief as their potatoes, fruit (and firearms) are politely removed. Oddly enough Americans often show up carrying firearms, in all innocence. The idea that they might be breaking the law is so ridiculous that it never occurs to them. They are allowed to transport guns en route to Alaska, but they need to fill in a triplicate form and pay $25. Don’t look for logic or common sense.

Smuggling is part and parcel of having a border, it’s a given. Every year $7 Billion worth of drugs, mainly Marijuana crosses through this border. The vast majority of it is smuggled in container ships which makes sitting in line for up to one and half hours to cross in a car rather frustrating. However to risk smuggling for a few dollars of wine or tobacco is foolish. You might save a little but if you get caught, every time you go near the border the computer will light up like a Christmas tree. It’s just not worth it. On the other hand I remember declaring four bottles of wine, just to be on the safe side. I was delayed an hour and learned to my horror that the local provincial taxes are beefed up by a 100% Federal tax. You expect to pay duty but come on, 100%! Stand and Deliver! Clearly they want you to buy Canadian booze.

America is commercially savvy of course and the chamber of commerce encourages Canadians to come over. The old town of Bellingham is somewhat overlooked as new development in the form a strip malls and outlet stores spring up along the highway. The old town was centred on the waterfront, it has charm and good food. The strip mall is all chicken nuggets and ugly cuboid flat roofed buildings. Typically inside they are what we have come to expect while on the outside they are unrelentingly, offensively ugly! American architecture is all about utility and cost. They have lots of space so it all just sprawls amid a forest of cheap advertising hoardings and power lines. Oh and let’s not forget the automobile. I’m as guilty as anyone but cars and trucks form a large part of that first impression I was talking about. It’s ugly, dirty, smelly and aggressive and it gets progressively worse as you approach Seattle and only slackens when you veer away from the highway and head west for the blessed relief of the seaside.

Another thing that you cannot fail to perceive is the uneven dispersal of wealth or even just the plain lack of it, i.e. poverty. America is in recession, no matter what the papers say. While I was filling my car a young man tapped me for $10 for gas. He just came over and said he didn’t have enough to get him home. I gave him his $10 and watched him walk over to an ancient Ford Explorer, maybe twelve miles to the gallon. Go figure as they say here. People have suffered and are still suffering, just have a quick look online at the local property listings. Foreclosures, hundreds of them, every one a personal tragedy. The truth is plain when you look at the state of the roads, cars, housing and also the health of the local population. Times are hard even here on the border where the economy is bolstered by Canadian shoppers.

Cheap food is plentiful but it carries a heavy price. Let’s just say if you buy clothes in America you better try them on first. An American butt is bigger than a Canadian butt as I learned to my cost. Everything in America is bigger but not necessarily better, the levels of obesity are astonishing, it’s not just a cliché. I have never seen so many people literally disabled by obesity. To dig a little deeper, there is also a strong and obvious correlation between obesity and the level of education. I realise that I am on thin ice here but this is simple observation and honestly I was shocked. However remember everything here is on a grander scale and when visiting other countries people naturally tend to make unflattering comparisons. The United States is also the last super power and the leader of the world in many ways. As such it gets a lot more criticism than it deserves, it’s tough at the top, it is wise to remember that every country has its social problems.

After mixing with the locals for a while you begin to notice that there are different tribes. There are retired people, more and more of them. There are the rednecks, the new age hippy types, business folk and what I call the walking dead. It seems unkind but you will see them everywhere you go. Huge, ponderous, sluggish zombies, poisoned by a toxic diet and no exercise. They congregate around the food mall, a depressing testament to poor education, a consumerist society and bovine passivity. It is quite alarming.

Bellingham old town centres around the waterfront where historically industry was dependent on the sea. When the Interstate highway was built the whole emphasis shifted away from the old town. New malls, gas stations and motels sprang up along the highway. When you arrive coming from Canada along the highway it is easy to get the impression that Bellingham is just a giant strip mall. It’s well worth taking the time to go visit the old town, especially if you want to eat real food and maybe meet the locals. Apart from Bellingham the local towns of Birch Bay and Fairhaven offer pleasant diversion from the more commercialised areas.

Getting away from the human aspect of this area never forget that Washington is called the Evergreen State for a reason. Much of it is actually temperate rain forest, in short it rains a lot here. The undeveloped pristine wilderness of the Northern Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula dwarf the parts that man has developed. Mother Nature dominates most of this State. Take a quick look on Google Earth and you will soon realise that man holds sway along the coast and along the highway but the rest, is untamed wilderness. Ironically this huge and wild border with Canada can be easily crossed on foot in many places. However those foolish enough to make the attempt are unlikely to survive the ordeal.

Everything here is on a grand scale, vast. You may be tempted to head straight for Seattle but there is much here to explore and marvel at. Take some time and get to know the area, you will be well rewarded.

The Arms Race in Space

An interesting insight into America’s weapons capability in space but also a difficult moral dilemma. Is it morally acceptable to dominate space in the national interest and at the expense of other nations? America is much more advanced than any other nation in space and could use that advantage, might even be a smart move who knows? However maybe we should share space and avoid another arms race?
Who is asking, a concerned, idealistic American, Mike More. Well worth watching.

A US Odyssey – In the beginning

Roanoke small     A US Odyssey – In the beginning

America is big, no doubt but it’s also incredibly diverse and complicated. So where to begin our Odyssey? Well the beginning is always a good place to start and America is remarkable even in its beginning. What we now know as the United States of America started late in European terms, around 1585. The Spanish Empire had done well in South America, a fact not unnoticed in Britain. There was gold in the New World, fabulous wealth just for the taking. South America was in the iron grip of the mighty Spanish Empire but North America was open.

It didn’t evolve so much as it materialised, overnight in evolutionary terms. The European nations evolved over thousands of years of war, trade and gradual population migration but in North America the pace of change was breath taking. The First Nations (Indians) were swept aside and mankind began a new era. The Anthropocene age, the Age of Man began with a jolt. Make no mistake, this was a pivotal moment in human history.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31836233)

The British Empire with all of  its old world European political drama, competition with the Spanish and later the French, descended in what must have seemed like an invasion from Mars. So what was the attraction? Gold and land, the essence of freedom to most people. Britain was threatened by Spain’s vast wealth and growing influence. War with Spain was inevitable and Britain needed to compete in the New World. There were also many dissatisfied people looking for a new start, Catholics in particular had a hard time under the reign of the Tudors. From the start America attracted. and still does, those seeking change and willing to risk everything to better themselves.

The British believed that there was gold there. Rich noblemen organised themselves into commercial groups with investors and shareholders just as they do today. These gentlemen applied for charters from Queen Elizabeth 1, there was absolutely no way to do business without her. From the very beginning the whole thing was about money and power and these, “gentlemen” were anything but gentle. They actually expected to walk ashore and find gold mines which they would of course simply take by force.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half brother Sir Walter Raleigh (tobacco and potatoes) started the first colony on Roanoak Island North Carolina. Much has been written elsewhere about the early British attempts to settle North America but for me the interesting thing is that it was a British commercial venture from the start. A few, wealthy, well connected noblemen with estates in England, France and Ireland,, bent on furthering their own interests drove the entire process. Their patriotism was a convenient cloak for the pursuit of wealth and power. They were ruthless and violent, their followers were criminals, pirates and adventurers. Sir Gilbert himself had a long and bloody history fighting the Irish and the French.

The media, even then, was used to whip up enthusiasm for investors and settlers. The New World was heavily spun, there was no mention of famine, disease, gross incompetence, hostile savages and indentured servitude. There was freedom to practice your own spiritual beliefs, there was opportunity and there was land. A steady stream of adventurers, religious refugees and those looking for land poured across the Atlantic. They died in appalling numbers while those rich gentlemen ran things, mostly from the old country.

The scene was set and the greatest Empire the world has ever seen, began its meteoric climb through the annals of history. The future is a matter for discussion but in those early beginnings certain national characteristic were forged. I believe that they hold true even today and will stand America in good stead for the future, They are worth highlighting,

A refusal to be constrained by anything

A strong ability to evolve and organise

A positive “can do” attitude, absolutely nothing is impossible

A surprising, quiet resilience and an ability to endure hardship

A truly grand sense of scale, in all things

America has come a long way in a very short time but I believe she is only just beginning. Her example shows us that the future is not a matter of chance, it can be built. If America gets it right, and I believe that she will, she will lead us into a better world. A world beyond nations where humanity can evolve in peace and prosperity. It won’t be easy but the alternative is grim, so let’s invest ourselves in the future and keep our minds open, help and not hinder. The American dream is not just for Americans, it never was. That dream is for the world, a New World.

 

A US Odyssey – Understanding 21st Century America

The world is fascinated by the United States of America. It may be a love hate relationship but as arguably the last, greatest superpower nobody can deny the extent of America’s influence on the world. Everybody has an opinion about America and Americans, yet, what do we really know if we are honest? And what do Americans think about the rest of the world? One of the most common misconceptions about Americans is that they neither know, nor care about the rest of the world. Remember it is always easier to blame and criticise than it is to keep an open mind and go to the trouble of finding out for yourself. Being a superpower America is often the target for unfair and irrational complaint. That bellyaching all too often comes with a side of,

“We need more financial aid please.” All Americans are rich, right?

It’s all about perspective and your point of view. As ever the trick is to try and see things from the other person’s point of view, whoever you are. Otherwise it boils down to them and us and we all know where that goes.

America is complicated. Throw in race, religion, politics, capitalism, health care, war, education and the wealth gap and you have a seemingly incomprehensible cultural maelstrom. This is the United States of America! Perhaps it’s cultural diversity and complexity is the source of its power and vigour, who can say?

It is the wise person who knows how little they know and the wise person is always willing to learn. I believe that the more that the world knows about America the better and the more America knows about itself the stronger it will be. We have an opportunity here, the human race has never been so connected, let’s use our technology, let’s have some fun and learn something new.

So, this US Odyssey is a journey of exploration, literally and metaphorically. That American cultural icon, the Road Trip will shed light on the true nature of America and that of course means Americans. For it is the people that give any country its cultural, spiritual and philosophical roots. Americans are by nature a diverse breed but what is it that unites them? What binds them together, what makes the United States of America such a powerhouse, so completely unlike anything that has gone before? It truly is, still, a New World and I for one can’t wait to see more of it.

Come with me, let’s use our connectivity to good effect. Help me give this Juggernaut structure and form, let’s watch it evolve together. Go to the website, choose your media, engage.

See you out there.      http://www.usodyssey.com